What image conjures up in your head when you imagine "letting go?" I imagine holding onto a rope, playing tug of war and when I let go, the person falls or at the very least loses their balance. I also can imagine myself, in a movie scene, dangling over a cliff, desperately holding onto something (a branch, a hand, a rope). After awhile though, it just becomes too much to hold on and I lose my grip. That ends even worse.
I obviously have issues with letting go. It's never been my super power. I get attached and as a result, I get stuck. My best example lies in a long, dysfunctional marriage that I just couldn't release. Now, there are a lot of other dynamics involved in that situation. There's nothing simple about letting go of a 22-year marriage, with 3 kids and a life, including a business, that was intertwined in every way. I was miserable, but refused to let go. So, my ex did it for us. In this case, he was holding my hand on the cliff and he released my hand. The movie scene returns in my head and I watch myself falling mid-air, flailing, screaming, looking upwards, as if to ask, "Why?" I now know why, and I couldn't be more grateful, but back then, it was a terrible death scene. A long fall that felt like it would never end.
I can still tend to get stuck in that old belief system. I've survived too many tragic endings. Suicide, divorce, estrangement, separation, bankruptcy, demolition, betrayal, all mixed with a bucket full of tears and a truck full of pain. I think it's time I go back to the movie director and ask him to stop with all the painful endings. They don't have to end so dramatically dude. Let's give this character a break and let her experience some calmer, more peaceful endings for a change. My life is not an episode of Grey's Anatomy.
And yes, you can have power in this area. We are not subject to a big mean God who has already written our script and has no plans to change it. No, I didn't have control over all my unhappy endings, but I certainly played a big role. Bigger than I would like to admit sometimes. Honestly, playing the victim comes naturally for me. It's as if my life just gave me the parts it knew I would thrive in. Yes, thrive. I was really good at it. I was good at being miserably unhappy, resentful, bitter, critical and sarcastic, on the inside, while putting on a calm and happy exterior. My chaotic inside caught up to me though. My thoughts got the best of me. The poison eventually corroded thru and life gave me exactly what I thought about it. Life sucks. People suck. They hurt you, and if they haven't yet, they will. Everything you have ever deeply loved has either brutally hurt you or left you and if they haven't yet, they will and it won't be covered in flowers. It will be, let's burn down the house and never talk again painful.
So, I've decided it's time to do some rewriting. I'm not happy with these endings that rip me apart from the inside out. It's time to let go in a gentler fashion, more natural and easy going. I'm going to spend the rest of my years, being a vessel.
A vessel you ask? Yes, a vessel. A container. It's there to hold liquid, but I really just want mine to hold light. Maybe some days I will have to be used to help empty water from a sinking boat, but at the end of that day, I want to be emptied. I want to let go, rest and be ready to be of assistance the next day. I don't want the water to remain within me, growing stagnant and stale. I want to be unattached to whatever may fill me that day, regain my composure as I sleep, and be ready when I am blessed to reawaken. Sounds beautiful doesn't it? Wish it was easy as it sounds.
You see, I was trained to be a victim, and I really should have earned an Oscar or Emmy for my performances. I was superb at it. I have a black belt in victim-hood. When my divorce hit, I stayed there for awhile, a good few years. My divorce was ugly. Uglier than our marriage, just wrapped up, very expensively, in a shorter amount of time. Once all the legal battles ended and the custody war was over, I came up for air, but when I came up, I wasn't the same person. I was tired of this role. So, I moved into a victorious position instead. I was beginning to take control of my life. I saw my contributions, and they weren't all pretty. Some were downright ugly. I stopped looking at who was behind me, causing all the chaos, and started really looking in the mirror. That's when my real growth began.
None of my journey came easily. I don't do life easy. Yet. That's changing. I didn't have a sensei, a mentor, a master or any one particular person to pull me thru. Instead I had hundreds, thousands even. I read voraciously. I listened to podcasts. I tried everything! My number one guide, without a doubt was Jesus though. Stay with me. I'm not about to take you into a "Jesus Saves" story about bad times, followed by getting saved and radical life change. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking those stories. They are powerful and can be very effective, if you stick with it. My story is just different. I knew Jesus already, but my Christianity had become one of self-righteousness. I loved, but with conditions, a whole bunch of conditions. And, I didn't just love those around me with conditions, I loved myself with conditions.
So, I was a container alright, and I was certainly full of it. Yep, I was full of some stinkin' nasty, putrid water. I hated myself. Everyday I started with a pile of to-dos, in hopes I could achieve some mastery that would make me lovable. Today, I will be perfect. Today, I will get so much done and play my part so superbly, that God himself will open up the heavens and simply smile at me. Today, I will master life and be crowned "perfect." HA! I set myself up for failure, day after day after day. Since I've been around for more than 51 years now, and I figure this started when I was about 5, I've been at this for over 16,000 days. To say I had it mastered is an understatement.
Let's get back to the whole reason for this blog post. Letting go and why it's so necessary. I remember as a kid the saying, "If you love something let it go, if it comes back to you, it was meant to be. If it doesn't, it wasn't." I hated that saying. I had no intentions to let anything go and risk that it may not return. If I loved it, I needed it to stay with me and continue to feed me those loving feelings.
If that wasn't enough, let's try this one, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." Yikes, I hated that verse also. How could Jesus be telling us we had to hate our family and even our own life to follow him? That made no sense to me and I wasn't about to accept that one either. Until now.
First off, this verse is certainly subject to interpretation. Isn't the whole Bible just a mini-series of people's interpretation, beliefs and perceptions? What one person sees in a verse can wildly be argued by another. I think we see what we want to see. Until now, I didn't want to see any clarity or sense in that verse. I wasn't ready. I had to get to a point in life where holding on became harder than letting go. A point where you can see the rope is only causing more damage and the fall, really isn't that far. It's actually a very survivable fall. It's only one story and you may even escape without a broken bone, if you just let the dang rope go.
So, since Jesus doesn't know hate, I think what he meant by that verse is simply, let go of your attachments. When you are attached, you live in fear. When you live in fear, you can't live in love, with him, where he lives. You are on the opposite end of the spectrum. You are worried about how this ends. Attachment means I am afraid to let go. I am afraid to let you go. You give me something I haven't learned to provide myself. You value me. You need me. You appreciate me. You get me. You love me. And when I'm getting something from an outside source, I will never be whole. You have literally given your power over to another human being and taken it away from the source who can provide it all. Your container is always waiting for someone to fill it up, and also for someone to empty it. And that, is where the problem lies.
As a victim, you are always waiting for the next person, the next circumstance, the next event to change things, for good or bad. You are at the mercy of the world. As a victor, you are starting to realize, you may actually have more of a role in this whole thing than you realize. You are the leading character in your movie and you can go to the director and have a few things to say about the script. You don't have to sit back and watch. You can fight back, but not with malice or hate, but with love, grace and dare I say, forgiveness.
As you do this, as you look in the mirror, pull roots, cast out the dark shadows and take charge of your destiny, one day you look back and realize, I'm done fighting. The victor role was great, but a victor needs a fight to keep that title, and you have no interest in a fight any longer.
Life shouldn't be a fight. Life shouldn't be me holding onto a rope for dear life. It shouldn't be me waiting for someone to let go, to watch them fall, or to watch me fall. Life shouldn't be a battle between people ever. That's like my two hands waging a war on each other. That's why Jesus didn't fight back. That's why he went to the cross willingly. If he fought back. If he kicked butt with his Jesus power and called on the name of the Lord, he could have eradicated the whole lot of them, but he didn't. He let go. He was simply a vessel, and on that day, he was being filled with a whole lot of yucky, stinky, stagnant water. He took it all, to prove to us just how powerful real love is. Real love you guys. Love without conditions. Love that says, even if you are a complete jerk, I see the real you and I know you aren't that person. You are just blind right now. You are just stuck in the muck. Let me help you drain some of that water out of your boat. Use me, because I know how to empty that water. I know how to let it go.
I wish I was there. I'm so not. I can still turn on a dime when someone hurts me, willfully or not. I still judge. I still condemn. I have good days, and bad. I still can't always see my image in the mirror, but you know what. That's okay. I'm not perfect. I'm a work in progress. I've come a long way. My container still has some yuck in it. I wish it was empty and airy and full of light and love and grace and complete forgiveness. It isn't, but I am working with my directors for some much better endings. I am learning to let go. I am learning to live. I am learning to love myself so that I don't need anyone to turn on the faucet and fill me. As I learn, I love better. I don't hold on to anyone for dear life, and take them under the murky waters with me. I let them live, their life and I live mine, trusting that we are all in this together and it will all work out...